How To Raise Successful Daughters

Sep 28, 2017

If you belong to a cricket dominant country, then you know exactly how much Indians love playing the sport. However, how many of you can imagine a woman playing cricket?

As a woman, an ex-cricketer, and a daughter, trying to make her parents proud, I write this today, to motivate all the parents out there to raise girls, who are not afraid to take over the world.

I believe that daughters will be successful when parents teach them to be adventurous and give them the authority to make their own decisions. When Richard Williams, the world’s most famous tennis dad (Venus and Serena), was asked “How did your daughters get mentally tough? He answered “Same way they got human tough, running for their life! In the ghetto, no matter what color you are, you’re gonna run for your life.” On that note- I came across two videos that talk about exactly this.

If today I have been able to make some unconventionally bold choices, it is because I have been given my space and freedom to decide for myself. That brings me to the question

How can parents raise their daughters to be successful?

There are two approaches. I like to call them; the “Authoritative parent” and the “Nagging mother”. As similar as the two may sound, in reality, they are quite different. Key is to strike a balance.

The “Authoritative Parent” approach

According to Diana Baumrind, a clinical and development psychologist at The University of California, Berkeley, found that the optimal parent is one who is involved and responsive, who sets high expectations, but at the same time, respects their children’s autonomy. Authoritative parents seem to cultivate motivation in their children, helping them to do better academically and psychologically, and socially. However, the word “authoritative” here must not be confused with “controlling”. The authoritative parent merely sets boundaries and expectations, allowing the child to achieve his/her goals in their own way. Whereas the controlling parent wants to do everything for them. Carol Dweck, a social and developmental psychologist at Stanford University, has done research that indicates why authoritative parents raise more motivated and hence successful children. In an experiment, Dr. Dweck takes young children into a room and asks them to solve a simple puzzle. Most do so with little difficulty. But then Dr. Dweck tells some, but not all, of the kids how very bright and capable they are. As it turns out, the children who are not told they’re smart are more motivated to tackle increasingly difficult puzzles. They also exhibit higher levels of confidence and show greater overall progress in puzzle-solving. This may seem counterintuitive, but praising children’s talents and abilities seems to rattle their confidence. While the studies apply to children from both genders, it assumes that both will be treated as equals.

This reminds me of my mother. As a kid, she never praised me or my siblings, not because she didn’t love us, but because she wanted us to set our feet on the ground and ensure that we never got complacent. As much as it frustrated me then, I realise today that my passion and ambition stems from the very need to consistently push myself. We were always taught that we do not belong to a family of born geniuses, but what should keep us going is a goal to work towards and hard work. The day every daughter is taught how to dream and given the freedom to fulfil them, is when we will have strong and successful women.

The “Nagging Mother” approach

As the daughter of a mother who set very high expectations I can certify that this works. I am positive that half the reason I went to college and got myself a good job was because I knew that if I didn’t, my mother would have said “I knew it” and I would have rather died than give her the satisfaction. From this dummy to her mother- Thanks, Mom. According to a study from the University of Essex, girls who have mothers who nag them, were more likely to go to college, get better paying jobs, and avoid teen pregnancy, than mothers who were more relaxed. According to the study, nagging has an effect even when we kids pretend to not listen to our parents (which is almost always).

This article (Kids Benefit From Having a Working Mom) talks about how women who have been raised by working mothers are more likely to have a job, hold supervisory responsibilities at these jobs and earn more than women whose mothers stayed at home. While this statement may not be entirely true, however, I do believe, when mothers work, they set an example for their children. I say children because I believe working moms have a clear effect on gender inequality. While daughters may take inspiration from them, sons may grow up to not only learn that it is normal for women to work full-time and be ambitious, but also be more likely to be involved in household chores.

In a time when organisations are being encouraged to banish “glass ceiling”, it is important that the change starts from our homes. We need to raise our daughters to be strong and independent.

Article originally published on LinkedIn.

Nimisha Agrawal

Nimisha Agrawal

Sr. Digital Marketing Executive at IBS

Nimisha Agrawal has done her digital marketing from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She has worked with numerous prestigious organizations like Accenture, HP, Women on Wings and is currently working as senior digital marketing executive with IBS Unified.

She is a firm believer of work-life balance. Recently, she has started writing and her article on ‘How To Raise Successful Daughters’ aims to bring awareness to parents on things that they can do to raise strong women, who are not afraid to take over the world.

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